Gli Invasori (1961)

a.k.a. - Fury of the Vikings (UK), Erik the Conqueror (USA)

Cameron Mitchell stars in Mario Bava's low budget but beautifully filmed Viking Film. Colosseo German R2 DVD.

The Film

Vikings have begun to settle in England after their early invasions in the 8th Century. Sir Rutford leads an attack on a Viking village despite being ordered to talk peace but when the King of Britain chastises him, a servant of Rutford kills the monarch blaming the attack on a Viking. During the attack, the two young sons of the Viking ruler are seperated, Eron (Cameron Mitchell) returns to Scandiavia to become a powerful chieftan while Erik (George Ardisson) is found by the newly widowed Queen and raised as a English nobelman. Years later Eron leads an attack against Britain while Erik is sent out with the British fleet to stop him, their ships clash and Erik's is sunk, he narrowly survives to wash up on Scandiavian shores while Eron and his Vikings kidnap the Queen of Britain...

Produced in response to the big Hollywood film The Vikings (1958), Gli Invasori takes a similar approach to the earlier film, with Scandinavian Vikings fueding with British Royals and two unknowing brothers in conflict with each other - fortunately the similarities are only superficial and the script is quite original, with a real Viking Saga atmosphere. There are a few plot holes and rushed points - the Vikings seem to take England with amazing ease by simply walking into a castle and their alliance with Rutford seems rather contrived. A couple of the awkward comic relief moments that became de rigueur in the Peplum genre crop up here and do prove rather grating although they are only brief. Fortunately the script does succeed at what it sets out to do, providing a number of action scenes with consistantly strong pacing, building to an exciting climax with a solid ending.

While the Italian adventure films rarely concerned themselves too heavily with historical accuracy, the contrivances in this film are noticable to even a casual viewer. A key plot element sees Queen Alice reigning as monarch after the death of her husband, the King, something that simply would not happen under the British royal system (or at least would require some sort of special event which is not alluded to in the storyline). The references to Britain as a single country are similarly incorrect (Britain not existing as a single entity until 1707) as are the Scottish knights, some four hundred years too early. The idea of vestal virgins serving Odin seems to be lifted from an Egyptian set Peplum and is completely incorrect for the Viking religion which had no real organised structure.

Bava's third film shows all of his classic hallmarks with some stunningly beautiful sets and cinematography that gives the film both a mythical and dramatic feel (particularly in the climactic assault on the castle, which is even more exciting than the similar scene in the Richard Fleischer film) and goes some way towards hiding the low budget - unfortunately, the dramatic naval battle in the middle of the film does betray this; with the action obviously studio bound. Historical inaccuracy also extends to the production, the Scottish soldiers who appear later on in the film clearly sport later Medieval armour and the castle they attack is similarly too modern. Even in its own mythos there are some noticable flaws - most noticably none of the cast seem to age in the twenty year jump after the opening scenes. The soundtrack is provided by Roberto Nicolosi who also scored Bava's debut Black Sunday (1960) and although that film's sappy love theme does make a brief appearance here, the score is generally good and effective.

American actor Cameron Mitchell is top billed here in his second of many Euro-cult movies during the 1960s, from Pepla to Spaghetti Westerns - convincingly rugged, he really looks the part and plays well throughout. George Ardisson plays his brother and the pair do look genuinely similar, with the smart looking Ardisson plausibly looking like he was raised as the son of a Noble, but equally able to put up a good fight. The beautiful Kessler sisters play the twins Rama and Daya, with whom the brothers fall in love and prove themselves to be more than just pretty faces. The rest of the cast is solid, with plenty of familiar faces including Franco Giacobini who reprises his role from Ercole al centro della terra (1961) as the rather unwelcome comic relief.

Suffering from some forgivable if hard to miss historical inaccuracy and some less forgivable plot holes, Gli Invasori remains a good film thanks to some beautful cinematography and a strong pair of lead performances. Fans of Mario Bava will certainly want to see this film and Peplum collectors will find plenty to enjoy here, just don't expect anything too historical or any epic scale battles. Recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Cameron Mitchell - an American actor who worked extensively in Euro-cult cinema in the 1960s.
Directed by anyone interesting? Mario Bava - one of the most popular Euro-cult directors who directed everything from Spaghetti Westerns (Savage Gringo (1966)) to crime films (Rabid Dogs (1974)) but is best known for his horror movies.
Any gore or violence ? Plenty of violence, and some bloody and surprisingly shocking death scenes.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Fans of Mario Bava and Pelpum/Euro-Adventure movies should enjoy this.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print is good with strong colours and only very slight grain
Audio English, German and Italian audio.
The English track is generally good and lip-syncs very well, although there is some slight crackling in a couple of scenes.
The Italian sounds strong.
The German track is very poor - hollow sounding, and missing many of the background sound effects.
Subtitles None. (A German subtitle track is included that adds a single subtitle to an intertitle card half-way through the film).
Extras The disc includes:
  • Mario Bava Speaks - A documentary including archive interviews with Mario Bava himself, as well as newly recorded and archive interviews with Luigi Cozzi and Barbara Steele, well illustrated footage from a variety of his films. In Italian with optional English or German subtitles. Very interesting. (50 minutes)
  • Original German theatrical trailer, as Der Rache der Wikinger.
Availability Released in Germany. DVD Title: Der Rache der Wikinger
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Available on DVD in the US as Erik the Conqueror, from Anchor Bay US - including English subtitles for the Italian audio, a slightly extended closing shot and an audio commentary from Tim Lucas.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. The print used is Italian language (although an intertitle card mid-way through the film is in English).



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 31st July 2007 - updated 11th April 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

Please contact: